I was really looking forward to seeing Alabama’s towel guy.
I was really looking forward to seeing Alabama’s towel guy.
Filed under Alabama
The AJ-C is back with its latest chapter in the fatal crash saga. I’m restraining myself from referring to it as “Toppersgate”, because that would be shameless and tacky, but it’s not as if the paper is letting up on that particular angle.
The crash occurred about 15 minutes after McClendon and Willock left a downtown Athens strip club with two women who strongly resembled Bowles and LeCroy. Their late-night socializing may have violated a university policy that forbids inappropriate contact between employees and student-athletes.
But I digress. This time, the protagonist is Bryant Gantt. Here’s a sample:
A middle-of-the-night telephone call alerted Athens’ police chief to a fatal car crash involving two University of Georgia football players and two recruiters. It wasn’t an officer on the scene who notified the chief minutes after the crash, however. It was an employee of Georgia’s football program who frequently intercedes when players run afoul of the law.
>Moments later, Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Jerry Saulters relayed the information — and an instruction — to a police dispatcher.
“Bryant Gantt, who is on the coaching staff, is on his way out there,” Saulters said about 3:10 a.m. Jan. 15, less than half an hour after the crash. He told the dispatcher to let officers know Gantt was coming, “so they can talk with him and kind of tell him what’s going on.”
“And he does what, exactly?” the dispatcher asked.
“He takes care of all player relations stuff,” Saulters said. “He’ll be out so they can talk to him.”
Now, as someone old enough to remember the glory days of Richt losing control, with players being arrested for things like not giving the police their middle name, I can certainly understand the purpose of having a Bryant Gantt in the mix. (You can bet your ass Kirby Smart did, too, as soon as he set foot on campus.) And it’s not as if the AJ-C has any actual proof that Gantt has interfered in the investigation, as much effort as they make in at least trying to hint at that. Instead, there’s this…
But his direct line to the chief and his presence during the critical first hours of the crash investigation suggest an inappropriate degree of coziness between the police and the university, the largest and most powerful institution in Athens, said David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who studies police procedure.
“He’s there to help out and protect players and affiliates of the program in ways that will be of assistance and will protect the program itself,” Harris said. “It may be very good for the players involved or the personnel involved, but it may not be good for the public and it may not be good for a clean and untainted investigation.”
… followed by a series of events involving Gantt, or, as the article puts it, “Gantt had become a familiar figure at police scenes involving Georgia football players.”
When Kirby Smart became the head coach in 2015, he promoted Gantt, eventually increased his salary by fivefold and assigned him to act as what feature articles have described as the team’s liaison with law enforcement. In that role, Gantt — referred to by the honorific “coach” even though he is not officially a member of the coaching staff — has repeatedly shown up as players were arrested or booked into jail.
“He’s close with some of the cops,” former Georgia linebacker Reuben Faloughi told the online sports publication DawgNation, a product of the Journal-Constitution, in 2016. “You would see Gantt talking with the cops. I think that kind of bridged the gap between the team and the police. … He kept us accountable, and also made sure we were protected.”
Again, see above comment regarding Richt.
Aside from Gantt, there are two other new names being reported.
McClendon said Tuesday that he, Bowles, LeCroy and Willock had been headed to a Waffle House to meet other players. Dispatch logs suggest two other players may have been on the scene after the crash.
Before Gantt arrived, officers had already asked a dispatcher to send them background information on one player, Dumas-Johnson. They later requested information on Mondon.
The UGA athletic department declined to make the players available for interviews.
Look, I have no idea where this is all headed. But there still really isn’t anything concrete being described that changes this tragedy into something more sinister, primarily because there’s still an investigation going on. Which is not to say the AJ-C won’t keep trying — in addition to the reporter who wrote the article, there are six others who contributed to it. Add in the folks who worked on the Toppers piece, and it sounds like half the newsroom is working an angle on it. Somebody thinks there’s something bigger there, I guess.
UPDATE: The tl;dr version of the story is even sadder than you think.
Filed under Georgia Football
Tired: Monken won’t go to Tampa Bay. It’s too unstable.
Filed under Georgia Football, The NFL Is Your Friend.
Johnny Hodges’ candor about Georgia was refreshing. His teammate, Dee Winters (whom you might remember as the blitzer Stetson Bennett outran to pick up a first down), well, not as much.
“They didn’t come out with any trick plays, nothing that we hadn’t seen or that they hadn’t shown on film, (but) they just completed a bunch of passes against misalignments,” Winters told DawgNation at Senior Bowl Media Day this week.
“It was the motions that discombobulated our secondary and got them confused.”
Don’t you just hate seeing a discombobulated secondary?
“They are a good team, there was talent there, but we could have saved ourselves a lot of those scores if we’d had gotten lined up,” Winters said.
It was 65-7, brother. That’s a shitload of lining up.
Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football
This sort of bookends today’s first post, but I thought you should know that Billy’s still in the market, shopping.
Billy Napier had his quarterback room planned out. Former Wisconsin signal-caller Graham Mertz would serve as a veteran presence and likely starter with inexperienced returners Jack Miller and Max Brown and highly-touted freshman newcomer Jaden Rashada joining him to give Florida four scholarship players at the critical position.
But a late collapse with Rashada’s NIL deal led him to back off his signed National Letter of Intent and pursue other options (Rashada signed with Arizona State, his father’s alma mater, on Wednesday).
As a result, the Gators have just three scholarship quarterbacks on their roster, which falls short of the minimum number Napier set on Early Signing Day when he said his teams should have no fewer than four scholarship quarterbacks at all times.
While that could be reasonably challenging to achieve in quality fashion given the timing of Rashada’s shocking departure from Florida’s coffer, Napier said Wednesday that Florida will be in the market for another signal-caller this spring.
“I think if there’s an opportunity, there’s a player that passes evaluation,” Napier said, “we certainly would be in the market for another player there.”
No shit, Sherlock. The problem is that no quarterback is finding Florida’s sales pitch particularly inspiring.
Initially, it appeared Florida could pivot from Rashada and target former LSU signal-caller Walker Howard, a one-time four-star prospect who entered the NCAA transfer portal after just one season with the Tigers.
… But, according to multiple sources, Howard had very little interest in the Gators and ultimately closed his recruitment down by committing to Ole Miss, which also added former Oklahoma State transfer signal-caller Spencer Sanders.
Ole Miss also has last season’s starter returning. It says something that Howard would rather go fight two former starting quarterbacks than jump aboard the Good Ship Napier. And he’s not the only one.
Sources also indicated to Swamp247 that the Gators had started to consider the possibility of pursuing former Washington quarterback Sam Huard, a former five-star quarterback who out of high school ranked No. 12 overall, No. 3 among quarterbacks and No. 249 among all prospects in the internet recruiting service era on the industry-generated 247Sports Composite
However, sources said that Florida’s communication with Huard never quite got off the ground and the former record-breaking high school quarterback eventually committed to Cal Poly.
Cal Poly beat out Florida for a former five-star? Why, Miz Scarlett, I nevah!
Have fun in the portal, Coach.
Filed under Gators, Gators..., Transfers Are For Coaches.
Mark Emmert, as clueless going out as he was coming in:
Dude, the NCAA “going to continue to operate like they do now” is the NCAA’s whole problem. Nobody, other than the schools themselves, wants that. Should make for a great pitch when Baker goes to Washington for the first time.
Meanwhile, Emmert rides off into the sunset with a fat bank account, so I doubt he really cares. His work is done!
Filed under The NCAA
Well, this should be awkward for some folks…
Why do I have the feeling Fox wasn’t going to let ESPN get a win here?
The Geoff Collins-Brent Key transition last season was certainly an improvement for Georgia Tech. How did the Jackets get better? Probably not the way you think.
The Geoff Collins era mercifully came to an end in late September after an ugly loss to UCF dropped the Yellow Jackets to 1-3. Under interim coach Brent Key, the team rallied, winning four of their final eight games to finish 5-7, their best record since Paul Johnson retired. Key’s performance earned him the full time gig, and he appears to have the Yellow Jackets trending in the right direction. To illustrate this point, let’s look at Georgia Tech’s conference record under both men.
Under Key, Georgia Tech finished with a winning conference record, while they barely won more than a fourth of their games under Collins. At a minimum, Key should have the Yellow Jackets back in bowl contention over the next few seasons. But, just to be thorough, let’s look under the hood. Here is how the Yellow Jackets fared in terms of Yards Per Play in ACC play under both men.This has to be a misprint. The Yellow Jackets somehow put up a worse YPP Net under Key? Indeed they did. Their defensive improvement was more than offset by an offensive decline. What about my other favorite metric, APR?
The Yellow Jackets scored and allowed touchdowns in ACC play at about the same ratio under Brent Key as they did under Geoff Collins. Under Collins, the Yellow Jackets won about one fewer conference game than we would expect based on the ratio of their touchdowns scored and allowed. Over 26 games they won seven league games instead of eight. Meanwhile, despite allowing more touchdowns than they scored under Key, the Yellow Jackets won four of the seven conference games he coached.
WTF? Or, as Matt puts it, “How did Georgia Tech pull this off?” Good question. Two answers:
While the Yellow Jackets did not fare any better under Key than they did under Collins in per play efficiency or scoring and allowing touchdowns, they were markedly improved in the oft ignored area of football: special teams.The kicking game was a mess under Collins. In three plus seasons, Georgia Tech kickers made less than half their field goals. For comparisons sake, the median team field goal percentage in college football is about 75%. Key turned the kicking responsibilities over to Gavin Stewart after being named interim coach and he converted twelve of his thirteen kicks. Key also apparently allowed his special teams to practice kick and punt protection as the team did not allow any blocked kicks under his watch after allowing 16 under Collins, including four in their first four games of 2022. Did the team even practice special teams under Collins? Probably. That would seem like a pretty big oversight if they didn’t, but based on their play, I can’t definitively say they did.Another area where Georgia Tech improved under Key was turnover margin.In 26 ACC games under Collins, the Yellow Jackets finished in the red in the turnover department 14 times. They were 2-12 in those games. In games where they did not lose the turnover margin, Georgia Tech was a respectable 5-7. Under Key, the Yellow Jackets lost the turnover battle once. In the six games where they were even or in the black, they finished 4-2.
Key obviously did a good job identifying a gaping hole at special teams and taking steps to plug it. He’s also ditched the offensive coordinator and replaced him with Buster Faulkner, so he’s got a clue about how to fix things. But, as Matt notes, turnover margin is a fickle beast, season over season, and Tech went 4-1 in one score games. Potential regression to the mean suggests next season will probably not be a walk in the park for the Jackets. It’s probably a good thing that Key has a little job security for the moment.
Filed under GTP Stuff, Stats Geek!
This could be fun ($$).
Next year’s schedule looks tougher, so what is the realistic expectation for Gators football: on-field improvements or a better record? — Lester L.
The Gators figure to be underdogs against seven opponents next fall — Utah, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, LSU and Florida State — and I consider games against Arkansas and Mizzou as toss-ups. That’s a bleak outlook for a program that hasn’t endured three consecutive losing seasons since 1945-47. [Emphasis added.]
Of course, since Florida’s fan base doesn’t believe the Gators started playing football until 1990, that particular three-peat would make for the program’s first time ever.
Filed under Gators, Gators...
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